Children and Families Act 2014
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We welcomed some provisions in the Children and Families Act 2014. This included the right of children in care to remain with their foster carers beyond 18 years old and improved support for adopters. But the Act did not grant similar support to kinship carers.
Family Rights Group lobbied for a number of changes to the bill while it was being debated in Parliament. These focused on clauses in the bill relating to:
- Foster for adoption placements. We were concerned that the Bill grants power to local authorities to place a child with a prospective adopter without any court proceedings and therefore without some parents having had independent legal advice.
- Weakening of consideration of the child’s race, culture, language and religion in adoption decisions.
- Changes in provisions in relation to parental contact.
- Reducing time-frame for care proceedings. We recognise the importance of preventing avoidable delay in court proceedings for a child. But we feared that the provisions could reduce the time available for parents to demonstrate their parenting abilities. And that these time constraints could squeeze out potential family carers from being considered by the court because there will simply not be enough time to consider their application (and support needs). We proposed an amendment which aimed to ensure that court timetabling is flexible where this is necessary for the child’s long term welfare.
- Reducing court scrutiny of care plans. We proposed an amendment so arrangements for sibling placements were considered by the court when making a care order.
- Effective support for looked after children returning home. We recommended a new duty on local authorities to assess, prepare, support and monitor the child’s welfare when they return home from the care system.